In the past my motorbike trips have been full of long days riding from place to place. Most of the time when you ride across North America you can rack up 800 to 1000 kilometers quite easily. If you haven’t done it, the drive across the continent is full of roads that remain straight for entire provinces or states. I’m fairly good at it too, I know that I can get going in the morning and can do about 200 km before I need my first break. I also know that by the end of the day that I will struggle to do about 100 km before I start fidgeting on the bike and need to start to think about where to stop for the night.
This trip just hasn’t been like that. I have never been so tired after riding 200 km. I also have changed what I consider an accomplishment in terms of daily distance to that same 200 km.
Tonight I find myself in Grenoble, France as a stop over as I start to head back north towards Paris and I am exhausted. I have been riding through the Alps for the last week or so and it has to have been the most intense motorcycling experience of my life. Each day has been full of twisty roads that took a lot of concentration and effort to get the bike around. If you have never been to this part of the world then you must find a way to get here. I think that the people who make their lives clinging to the sides of these mountains should be justifiably proud of what they and their ancestors have been able to create in this environment. It takes a special person to live, work and play in these places.
Yesterday I rode out of the Alps down to the Mediterranean coast with the idea of riding along it. There is a Road that follows the coast and I had hoped to take it all the way to Nice where I would finally turn North. I did this for a while and experienced the madness that is the Italian traffic and drivers. Unfortunately the entire coast is all city broken up with maybe a kilometre or two where the road goes up and around a peninsula. Quickly though you find yourself back into a sea side resort and lots of traffic once again. I did get through the area much better than if I was in a car but it was frustrating and by the time I made it to Sanremo I was tired, hot and getting angry so I gave up on my avoid highways and tolls plan and headed up the hills to catch the Autostrada. This change in plans meant I had no patients for riding into either Monaco or Nice and arrived in my overnight stop of Levens earlier than I had expected.
Levens is a small town that seems like it is a cross road of sorts. It is also sort of a dusty place and the only reason I chose to stay there was the place I found on the internet was cheaper than staying in Nice. There isn’t much going on there, I did walking up the hill from my Hotel and find a pub but they didn’t serve beyond lunch and so the only food I found was a pre made sandwich in a grocery store.
Today I headed directly North and rode through canyons almost the entire way. My Garmin was playing its old game of finding the smallest of roads to take me along, roads that I don’t think many people use. I can tell that I am tired as I have stopped letting the GPS take me to random places and for the last half of the day just stayed on the largest roads that were sign posted to Grenoble.
And so part one of the trip is essentially complete. There were a couple of times that I got a little emotional while riding along when I thought that I was practically done with riding in the Alps. The next step is to spend about 4 days in Paris which will be a very welcome change having a home base and parking the motorbike for a while. I am also looking forward to having company as I will be joining my sister there. She and I have a history of traveling together and I am really excited to have someone to talk to again.
Anyways, two days ride still to do before Paris…. and I need sleep.